Art And Living In The Digital World

img_0382

 

This is an essay I wrote towards the end of 2014 about being an artist and living in the context of our digital world. I have made a few changes since then but the general gist of the essay remains the same.

 

Today art can be split into two categories; “Pre-Internet” and “Post-Internet” art.

All the important and influential art movements are all of the Pre-Internet age. It seems to me that in this current Post-Internet age, there are no real lasting and meaningful art movements. There are of course many interesting artists today creating challenging and original works of art via digital media and who are very much in tune with the zeitgeist and more power to them. Yet there is something I long for which I feel is missing. And this is not strictly limited to artists and art. This applies to (and perhaps to a much greater degree) general living.

Before the internet the main media sources were television/video, the telephone, the radio and the printing press. The internet is all this and much much more. It enables us access to diverse and limitless quantities of information. In order to source information before the internet, most people went to libraries and even these institutions were no guarantee that you would find the specific information you were looking for. But with the internet almost all kinds of information can be accessed without having to travel to libraries or even spend valuable time and money employing people to find certain bits of information. Access to information has been truly democratised (assuming everyone has an internet connection) since the development and growth of the World Wide Web.

Today we have a whole plethora of internet related social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. to communicate/express ourselves through. Before the internet, the only possible ways to communicate with one another apart from face to face, were via the telephone, fax, telegram or via mail (in the form of letter writing which save for a few dedicated souls is well and truly six feet underground as an art). The channels of far flung communication were limited. People were more in the woods with regards to what was happening globally.
People did not lose themselves or devote much of their time to living in “electronic virtual reality”. People actually spent much time reading books, spending their free time outside, having real relationships (we still have real relationships but these are decreasing and I believe in the wake of “hyper-immersive 3D virtual reality” more and more people will be cutting themselves off and almost be living at least half of their entire existence in this new type of virtual world. More and more people will even cease having sexual relationships since the stimulated virtual way will feel even better than the real thing).

Via the array of social media sites there are many different groups that artists join. Too many groups. A humongous vertigo-inducing fragmentation of different groups. In the context of today’s world, everything changes faster than before. This is a faster world. News travels faster. There is less mystery. Life is documented more than ever before. Through the internet, everyone can now express themselves. There are more artists today than before. Art or being an artist is not something that is taboo or contentious anymore. Things that may have been considered ‘renegade’ or less accepted in the past such as being an artist, a musician or traveling around the world are now accepted and quite conventional. To travel around the world for a year as part of a ‘gap year’ is now the done thing.

I think that to be a true artist (a most overused weird) in this current digital age is to leave no traces; no evidence of art or living. To disappear and be an eternal apparition.

Often I don’t have the guts or the humility to leave no traces. There is something intricately hardwired in me about having to ‘be somebody’. Yet as the great Indian sage Juddi Krishnamurti once said, ‘the moment we want to be someone we are no longer free’

 

By Nicholas Peart

Originally written on 27th December 2014

(All rights reserved)

 

Image source: http://www.blouinartinfo.com

My Favourite Paintings In The Louvre

img_0345

The Louvre *

 

The Louvre museum in Paris has one of the most impressive collections of paintings by European Old Masters in the world. Perhaps the only museum to really rival it in this field is the Prado in Madrid (the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are a few close contenders). But not only does it house an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures from that age, it also has a substantial collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic and other World artefacts through the ages.

In this post I am listing my favourite paintings from the enormous collection of paintings on display by Old French, Italian, Flemish and Spanish Masters

 

image

Nicolas Poussin (1594 – 1665) – Saint John Baptising The People (1634-5) 

Many art writers and historians argue that Poussin was the first great French painter who changed the face of art in France and blazed a trail for all French artists who came after him. The art scene in France during his time was very staid (yet in a state of transition finally moving away from the traditional apprenticeship methods of working) and for this reason he spent most of his life in Rome. The American author Micheal Kimmelman goes as far as saying that Poussin was, ”the springboard for the greatest French artists from David to Matisse”

 

 

image

Claude Lorrain (1600 or 1604/5 – 1682) – Port With Capitol (1636)

Claude was another great French painter who like Poussin spent most of his life in Italy. He was also a prominent landscape painter. As can be seen in the port painting, the landscape was the dominant subject. At the time, making the landscape the dominant feature of a painting as opposed to actual figures/subjects was seen as groundbreaking. Claude’s paintings were an enourmous influence on the dramatic abstract-like landscape paintings of the revolutionary British painter J.M.W.Turner.

 

 

image

Adolphe-Joseph Monticelli (1824 – 1886) – The Diner 

Monticelli was a very individual painter with his own unique style. What is even more amazing is how ahead of his time he was regarding his unusual style. Like the other great French painter, Eugene Delacroix (whose oil sketches Monticelli highly admired), he predated the Impressionists by many years.

 

 

image

Herman Naiwincx (1623-1670) – Baptism Of The Ethiopian Eunuch 

 

 

image

Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (1803-1860) –  A Begger Counting His Money (1833) 

 

 

img_0349

Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) – The Hay Trussers (1850-51)

Millet was a huge influence on Vincent Van Gogh and this painting, as well as being a landmark work of art, perfectly encapsulates what Van Gogh first set out to achieve when he established himself as an artist. Van Gogh had a strong desire to paint the rural folk and their way of life as can be seen in his early paintings such as The Potato Eaters and many of his early sketches.

 

 

image

Jules Dupré (1811-1889) – Sunset After A Storm (1851)

 

 

image

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) – Pietà (1837)

This is a gem of a painting by the great French painter Eugene Delacroix. What is amazing about this painting is, stylistically, how loose and free it is and one could argue that it is a strong example of proto-Impressionism since it predates the movement by four decades (give or take a few years). Furthermore, Delacroix was an enormous influence on that generation of artists. In fact many argue that he planted the seed for the Impressionist movement.

 

 

image

Jaques-Louis David (1748-1825) – Death Of Maret (1794)

This painting is of the murdered leader of the French Revolution, Jean-Paul Marat, and is one of the most iconic images of its time.

 

 

image

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) – Rinaldo In The Gardens Of Armida

 

 

image

Cimabue (1240-1302) – The Madonna And Child In Majesty Surrounded By Angels

Cimabue was a revolutionary artist. Arguably the first of the major early Italian Renaissance artists and the first artist to break away from the traditional Italo-Byzantine style art of the time. The above painting is one of his series of famous Maestà paintings.

 

 

image

Giotto di Bondone (1266/67 – 1337) – The Crucifixion

Giotto was a student of Cimabue and along with him a major artist of the early Italian Renaissance movement.

 

 

image

Lo Spagna (d. 1529) – St Jerome In The Desert (1531)

 

 

image

Antonio Campi (1522-87) – The Mystery Of The Passion Of Christ

 

 

img_0350

Bartholomé Esteban Murillo (1617-82) – The Young Begger (1645-50)

This painting, for me, is striking for it’s gritty realism and social context. It was painted towards the end of Spain’s Siglo d’Oro (Golden Age) around the middle part of the 17th century when Spain had an enormous global empire. But what is clear is that, as evident by the acute poverty in the painting, it wasn’t a Golden Age for everyone. Much of Spain’s wealth accumulated from its former colonies was squandered on wars and in spite of its global clout at the time, the Spanish Crown filed for bankruptcy several times.

 

 

By Nicholas Peart

26th October 2016

(All rights reserved)

*image source: symmetrymagazine.org

Mona Lisa Madness At The Louvre

image

Mona Lisa frenzy at the Louvre museum, Paris

 

I don’t think I’ve seen anything else quite like this in any other art museum I’ve been to around the world. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci is arguably the most iconic work of art in the world and the most well known. Perhaps the only other work by an old master with an iconic status almost equal to (but not quite of the same magnitude of) the Mona Lisa is The Girl With The Pearl Earing by the Dutch painter Johanes Vermeer.

It is actually quite rare that a random member of the general public knows the title of a work of art by a famous artist. Everyone has heard of Picasso but how many can name the title of one of his many works? The same for Andy Warhol, the same for Jackson Pollock, Damien Hirst etc.

I am quite fascinated by the monumental popularity of the Mona Lisa. The stampede to even just catch a glimpse of this painting is akin to trying to catch a glimpse of a famous rockstar doing a signing at some small record store. As much as I wanted to get up close to see the Mona Lisa, I eventually gave up. Instead I channelled my energies into immersing myself into the nearby epic painting entitled The Cornation Of The Virgin by the Italian master Tintoretto.

But why is the Mona Lisa the most iconic painting in the world? Firstly its provonence. Since it was completed in 1519, it has been in the hands of French kings and emperors before finally settling in the Louvre. The genesis though of its current global popularity can be traced back to an 1867 essay on Leonardo by the English essayist and art critic Walter Pater where he dissected and wrote very passionately and poetically about the Mona Lisa (or La Gionconda as it was known back then). Pater’s essay is not only one of the most famous essays on any single piece of art, at the time it was seen as quite groundbreaking especially since art criticism was a fairly new concept back then. Since then the painting has been caught in the crossfire of a series of high profile events. In 1911 it was stolen from the Louvre. Picasso and his friend the French poet Guillaume Appolinaire (who once demanded that the Louvre be ‘burnt down’) were seen as two potential suspects. Eventually the thief was revealed to be a Louvre employee at the time, Vincenzo Peruggia. In 1956, part of the painting was destroyed when someone hurled acid at it. Then it was vandalised again in 1974 when a woman sprayed red paint on it. The painting is now kept behind bullet proof glass as can be seen in the photo above this post.

The painting has also been appropriated by other artists. Most famously by the father of conceptual art, Marcel Duchamp, who added a mustache to the painting in his 1919 piece ‘L.H.O.O.Q’. Later famous artists like Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol have also appropriated the painting in their work.

The truth is that the Mona Lisa has the greatest legacy out of any other single work of art ever created hence the unprecedented fascination in it. This painting would go for a whopping sum of money if it were ever released on the open market at auction in either Sotherby’s or Christies. The record paid so far for a single work of art to date is $300 million in September 2015 for the painting ‘Interchange’ by the abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. I predict that if the Mona Lisa were ever auctioned (perish the thought) it would breach the billion dollar mark. It is that important and as a financial ‘security’ or ‘instrument’; tremendously desirable.

As for me, I like Da Vinci’s work but I’ve always been more interested in his mind, his ideas and ways of working than the actual finished pieces of art. His sensitivity to nature and the world as well his acute understanding of the anatomy of the human body have always impressed me.

His thinking was incredibly ahead of his time. His dreaming and vision had no boundaries. I love his sketches. Some of his skeches contain many of his inventions – one looking like a modern day helicopter. Incredible to think that these were concocted over half a millennium ago.

 

by Nicholas Peart

22nd September 2016

(All rights reserved)

PAINTINGS (March – June 2016)

I’ve just returned back to London after having been away in South Africa for five months. For much of the last two months of my time over there, I travelled around large swathes of the country and many of my last blog posts detail my travel experiences over there.

Yet for the first few months of my time in South Africa I was based in the Western Cape, where I spent much of that time working on my latest series of paintings. Below I am enclosing images of the fruits of my creative labour (put your back into boy! – hahaha) which I am enclosing underneath this post.

If you would like to view more images of my work please visit my official art website at: http://www.nicholaspeart.com

Enjoy!…

 

 

image

Life On Pluto (2016), oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm

 

 

 

image

Straight To Hell (2016), oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm 

 

 

 

image

Frozen Meta Collective Unconscious Lives And Past Lives (2016), oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm

 

 

 

image

In The Next Life (2016), oil on canvas, 70 x 55cm

 

 

 

image

Enigma (2016), oil on canvas, 70 x 55cm

 

 

 

image

Funeral Pyres Of Fantastic Disguise (2016), oil on canvas, 40 x 32cm

 

 

 

image

Secret Lives (2016), oil on canvas, 70 x 55cm

 

 

 

image

Sun Poles (2016), oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm

 

 

(All images and works above by Nicholas Peart)

(All rights reserved)

Spiritual Coding and Self Discovery: An Exploration Of My Paintings

image

Magma Matter Execution (2012) by Nicholas Peart

 

I am often asked by people to explain my paintings. ‘What are they about?’ is a common question. For a long time I found it difficult to translate the meaning of my paintings into words since the process is very personal and involves deep introspection. When people did ask the question I invariably gave them the reply, ‘My feelings. I paint my feelings’. This is one of the most succinct and sincere ways of explaining the meaning of my paintings yet I often felt that such a response just didn’t wash with some people.

All of my inspiration comes from within; through journeys into the deep chambers of my eternal, spiritual and immortal being. This is the part of me that is really me. The truth. In Hinduism and Buddhism this part of the self is known as atman. Yet often I feel very separated from this as I am immersed in the external environment of this life; a player on a stage where much of the cast has been programmed to be increasingly separated from their true being.

When I am immersed in the deep meditative process of painting, I feel increasingly connected with my true eternal being. It almost feels like it’s not me painting but my spirit. In my most inspired and transcendental moments of the painting process it is my eternal spirit which guides me. In these moments there is no chasm between my conscious and my unconscious. Being in this state makes me think of some of the earliest prehistoric civilisations. Back then, the world was a much less complex and complicated place to the one it is today. Especially the time before words. I think of the San rock art paintings found across parts of Southern Africa and Aboriginal rock art paintings from Australia. The San people of Southern Africa and the Aboriginal people of Australia fascinate me greatly since their culture goes back tens of thousands of years. But what’s more, their culture is profoundly spiritual and this can be seen clearly in their art; their oneness with the world and nature, and their high levels of awareness. In many ways it’s their lives and methods of working which inspire me just as much as the work itself, because of their deep spirituality.

 

san-rock-art-cederberg-south-africa

San rock art – Cederberg, South Africa

 

One thing that the San and Aboriginal people have in common is that much of their land is vast desert. For many people such a terrain is inhospitable and lonely; especially if one is very separated from themselves. In this state of being such a person would very quickly find the desert intolerable and isolating. It’s almost like the desert richly rewards those who are spiritually connected (and by extension at one with it) and makes life a living hell for those who are detached from their eternal soul. With a higher state of consciousness the desert begins to truly reveal itself. In a sense my paintings are like deserts, which only become alive as one becomes more connected with themselves. And this is sometimes a great problem I encounter as to some people my paintings appear quite alien and foreign to them. I fully expect this and it does not offend me when people openly tell me that they don’t understand them. My paintings are interactions with the spiritual world and these interactions take place during the painting process. One could then argue that in order to get to the core of my work it would be essential to observe me as I paint. You can do this and you can even do this without me being aware of being observed. But to really understand the processes would involve fully connecting with all levels of my consciousness.

 

image

Wadjina Aboriginal rock art – Kimberly, Australia

 

I find that the paintings of the American artist Don Van Vleit (better known as Captain Beefheart) have much in common with the art of those early prehistoric civilisations. What’s also interesting is that when Van Vleit retired from making music and dedicated himself fully to painting in the early 1980s, he lived in a remote part of Northern California. And by immersing oneself in his work one can see the deep connection. Like the San and Aboriginal people, his true spiritual home was in nature. The place where his true being could glow white hot. Take him out of this environment and plop him in a studio in New York, London or Berlin, he would be like a flower without water.

 

image

                                        Crepe And Black Lamps (1986) by Don Van Vliet

 

I like to call my painting technique Spiritual Coding. In the digital world in which we currently live the word coding is used a lot. This of course refers to computer programming. A language for this age. And when I look at my paintings I am also using my own language. A language created through interacting with my ‘inner being’ and this I call Spiritual Coding. My paintings are in many ways remnants of this. Tangible photographs almost of my eternal spirit. Although they don’t capture the processes of my work they are residue formations of intense spiritual journeying and internal searching.

 

image

A Winter In Crowland (2008) by Nicholas Peart

 

Remaining on the subject of Spiritual Coding, symbols are important in my paintings. The American artist Philip Guston created his own unique symbols, language and world. Even if his world was very bleak and one of hardcore isolation. A dystopian spirituality. But through connecting with his paintings one can see that he embraced this insurmountable at-sea pain and isolation. Works offering no hope or salvation. For the majority of people (including myself) such a level of alienation would be intolerable and very difficult to embrace and accept. But it’s amazing how secure Guston seems to be in this vacuum. And that’s what makes his paintings very striking, visceral and distinct. They are pure undiluted archives of raw pain. I think of Van Gogh and how, even though he was often in the grip of profound sadness and anxiety, he produced some of the most beautiful paintings of all time. Yet Guston’s paintings are anything but beautiful. He was not looking to turn pain into beauty. He was more interested in turning pain into more pain. The painter Francis Bacon is the closest artist to Guston in this respect. Merciless insatiable masochists. Perhaps there is absolutely nothing of the spiritual in Guston’s work and he was always an enigma to himself but his comfort in the most acute thresholds of pain and loneliness is epic.

 

image

Painter’s Form II (1978) by Philip Guston

 

Luck and chance play enormous roles in my paintings. My soul brothers here are the painters Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon. And like them I never make sketches or engage in preliminary studies. And why would I? After all this is completely against my way of working and, more significantly, my raison d’être. I can’t plan what I am going to paint. If luck and chance weren’t integral parts of the painting process, I don’t think I would ever paint. Uncertainty is extremely important.

 

image

                                                                           Jackson Pollock 

 

The work of both Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon have their own unique and idiosyncratic qualities yet what unites them is their spontaneity. But there’s a more important quality which unites them and that is their energy. Wild, untamed, animal energy. Free of even the most minute inhibition. The primal way Pollock dripped paint and the ferocious and feral way Bacon attacked the canvas. Almost like a serial axe murderer taking a swing at his next victim. I can relate to this (not the axe murderer) since in much of my work when I first apply paint to the canvas either with a brush or a palate knife I literally lunge at it and let my inner self do the work. And sometimes I get so exhausted by the end of this process I need to rest.

 

image

                                                                            Francis Bacon

 

I am still on my journey of self discovery. And as explained earlier in the text, I am just as conditioned and influenced by my external environment as any other being yet when I am painting I am far away from this external environment since painting enables me to get closer to the truth; of myself and the world

 

by Nicholas Peart

23rd May 2016

(All rights reserved)

 

My work can be found by visiting my website; http://www.nicholaspeart.com

PAINTINGS (Oct – Dec 2015)

As you all saw from my previous post, I am currently working on my latest series of paintings. However, I thought I’d share with you all some examples of my previous works. So below I am sharing with you all my last series of paintings painted between October – December 2015.

If you would like to see more examples of my art work, you can visit my website at: http://www.nicholaspeart.com

 

 

image

Angler Visions (2015), 70 x 55cm, oil on canvas

 

 

image

Evopollution (2015), 100 x 75cm, oil on canvas

 

 

image

Keleidobop Rock (after Karel Appel) (2015), 60 x 45cm, oil on canvas

 

 

image

Midnight Vulture Moves (2015), 60 x 45cm, oil on canvas

 

 

image

Ochre Drones (2015), 100 x 75cm, oil on canvas

 

 

image

New Rising (2015), 50 x 40cm, oil on canvas

 

 

image

Before Light (2015), 50 x 40cm, oil on canvas

 

 

image

Death Valley Down (2015), 28 x 35cm, acrylic on canvas

Photos From My Art Studio In South Africa

For most of the last seven months I have been based in South Africa. Since March I’ve been working on my latest series of paintings. Below are some photos from my studio (or garage – hehe) including works in progress.

All of my art work can be found by visiting my main website at: http://www.nicholaspeart.com

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image